New Year message from York council leader James Alexander

31 Dec 2012 @ 12.03 pm
| News

Issued by City of York Council

2012 was an important year for the City of York when 800 years after being given the right to govern ourselves, we demonstrated that the things we do, the values we hold and the leadership we give are as important now as they have ever been.

Our York800 programme set the backdrop to a year of celebration and some debate about the future of York. We welcomed Her Majesty the Queen, and the Olympic and Paralympic torches to the City and enjoyed the spectacle of both Ebor Vox and the Mystery Plays, amongst many of the more regular festivals in the City. We also took the important step to approve the development of a Community Stadium at Monks Cross and welcomed the announcement that both John Lewis Partnership and Hiscox were to locate in York.

Throughout 2012, York has shown itself to be one of the most beautiful, friendly and proud places to live in the UK but also one with strong opinions on fairness and equality.

Aside from the celebrations, I know that 2012 was also a difficult year for many families and households in our city. Fuel and food bills are rising, house prices are unaffordable for anyone on an average wage, rents are high and the waiting list for social housing grows on a weekly basis. With escalating costs of living and little if any growth in wages for those in employment, too many of our residents are struggling to make ends meet. I am concerned that central government’s plans to reduce welfare benefits in April will make matters worse for many families. I also share the view of those who think that the Government’s austerity measures disproportionately impact the north of England.

It is for that reason that I will redouble the efforts of the Council and its partners to tackle poverty and inequality in York in 2013. This will build on the work we set in train in response to the Fairness Commission sponsored by Archbishop Sentamu. My focus on creating jobs and growing the economy will and must remain a Council priority. The most important way to tackle poverty is to ensure that people have access to jobs and I will create an environment in this city where business can continue to prosper. We will also tackle other causes of poverty. We will increase the provision of housing and particularly affordable housing in 2013. We will introduce the living wage for council employees and work with companies across the City to encourage them to adopt a living wage. We will seek to bring down the cost of living for households through energy switching and greater support for local low cost provision of supplies. From April residents seeking advice about benefits and finance will able to walk into West Offices – the Council’s new base – and access support from Citizens Advice, the Credit Union, the Council’s Benefits Team and Future Prospects all in one visit.

In 2013 I will continue to work hard to serve you, the residents of York. I understand what a privilege and responsibility it is to serve this special City as its Leader. I will continue to listen, learn and understand what matters to our city and debate the big issues on social justice. There are tough decisions that the Council will face in the new year but I will not compromise the work we need to do to build prosperity for all households and families. I will continue to back what is right for the long term and stand up for the interests of the people of the city in negotiations with central government, potential investors and our local partners in the Leeds City Region. This city has been built by the hard work of people in businesses, voluntary and community organisations, public services and the generous community spirit that exists in many neighbourhoods. That will serve us well in 2013 as we strive to do the best we can for everyone in York.

A very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,

Cllr James Alexander

Leader – City of York Council

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